Archive for July, 2013

Older women are the least likely group in society to use the internet, despite potentially having the most to gain from it, new statistics from the ONS reveal
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Is there a difference between a man of 70 [I will call him Fred] who is in good health and uses the internet regularly, keeps in touch with family and friends via email and Skype and a man who is 70 [I will call him Charles] and lives in a care home?

Yes! Fred can access the internet and his friends and family via technology, Charles cannot, unless the care home has wifi access and individuals living there have been taught how to use the technology [if they want to].

I ask this question because I mentioned to Fred that it would be great if all the people living in care homes could use the internet access [that is already in place] Why? He asked.

Moving into a care home can be lonely if you do not have family and friends close by or who visits often. Each care home has internet access and they can easily open it up so the people living there can use it as well.

Benefits of access to the internet can be:

Search the internet: keeps the brain stimulated, learn new things, new things to talk about, buy products. Check inspection reports of the home. Share compliments and concerns with others about their care.

Email: receive and send messages and photos to family, friends, anyone.

Blogs: people can write about what they have doing and post it on their blog. People signed up to receive these blogs will get them in their email and can read what the people have doing.

Skype: Face to face talk via the internet and it’s free. Older people love to talk with their family and friends and talking to them whilst seeing them on the screen is a good way to communicate. The individuals do not necessarily need to know how to use Skype, it can be set up for them, at a prearranged time with the caller. The individual can just sit there and their caller [relative/friend] will appear on the screen.

Social networking sites: Twitter, Facebook etc can be a great way to connect to people who have similar interests. [Managers will need to inform the individuals about not posting private information on these sites and set the ‘Privacy’ settings on it accordingly].

My sister and brother in law are currently travelling the world, and I miss them, but would miss them more if I did not have contact from them by email, read what they have been doing on their travels via their blogs, and talk [and see] them using Skype.

Some older people can be put off by the look or the thoughts of complicated machinery but each individual should be able to ‘have a go’ and see which one suits them. Some like the computer or laptop and some I know worry about ‘all the buttons’ and get on better with the ipad/tablet, as they prefer to touch a picture on the screen which takes them to the internet or their email or to use Skype. Some may prefer to do it on their mobile phone.

How can this be achieved?

There will be staff who work in the Home who have knowledge to teach these skills to the people living there. An unrushed 1-1 session would be great. Care homes are very busy so managers will need to be creative with the staffing hours. Alternatively, the manager could contact their local computer skills centre and ask them to do some sessions.


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AGE UK  are looking to find out more about people’s experiences of the social care system. If you have experienced care and support, good or bad, we want to hear more from you. It will help to inform our work and make sure people realise this crisis has a human cost.

Even if you do not have any experience, you probably know someone who does. Please forward this email to any friends and family who may be able to share their stories.

Thank you so much for your continued support. Without you, we would not have come this far. Together, we can ensure that every older person gets the essential care they need.


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I’ve had quite a few telephone calls this morning from Carers and relatives concerned on older people not drinking enough during this heat wave.

People who are dependent on others [and people who have dementia] are at greater risk of an inadequate fluid intake than those who are able to obtain their own fluids.

Here are just a few examples on how you can encourage an individual to drink more:

  • Ask the individual what drinks they like
  • Place the fresh drink within easy reach of the individual. Ensure s/he can reach it.
  • Offer favorite drinks regularly
  • Offer drinks in different forms, e.g. ice lollies, soups. [You may say that the weather is too hot for hot soups. Have a warm soup, any liquid is better than nothing].
  • Monitor fluid intake

When I mentioned the ice lollies to one carer she said that the client didn’t have any in her freezer. I suggested it get put on the shopping list. Something she had not considered. I then added, could you not pop out to the shop and buy her some? I know a lot of carers across the country and how busy they are but in desperate times like this, I would like to think they could pop out and get an ice lolly.

Signs and symptoms of hydration.

Some examples:

  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Constipation
  • Urine infections
  • Lethargy
  • Poor wound healing
  • Loss of skin elasticity
  • Sunken eyes
  • Sticky lips

If you are a home carer and you find the older person is not drinking: record as you normally would but in this hot weather please inform your office so they will, hopefully, ask another carer to go in shortly to try and encourage the individual to drink. Especially if the individual is not due to see another carer for a few hours.

I hope the carers have bottles of water with them and look after themselves during this heat wave. They do a great job looking after others, lets hope they remember to look after themselves as well.

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